Matt Mosley's game balls
Game 1: Seattle 35, Washington 14:
Seattle fullback Leonard Weaver
caught the Washington defense off guard with a 17-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. When he lined up alone in the backfield on first down, the Redskins dropped back into pass coverage. Weaver showed some speed racing around the right end. And he might not be regarded as a great blocker, but I watched him flatten Washington linebackers on at least two occasions.
had six catches for 101 yards and the winning touchdown. He did a great job of exploiting the middle of the Redskins' defense. With Deion Branch
out with an injury, the pressure was on Hackett to have a big game, and he certainly responded.
Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant
made plays all over the field, but his biggest was a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown with 5:38 left in the game. Trufant did a great job of limiting Redskins receiver Santana Moss
for most of the game. And when Washington quarterback Todd Collins
went into desperation mode late in the game, Trufant was at his best.
was brilliant Saturday. His ability to bring pressure from his left defensive end spot is what set up the Seahawks linebackers for a huge day. The Redskins had to plan around Kerney, and he blew that game plan up with his relentless effort.
Washington safety LaRon Landry
almost brought his team back in the second half. It's stunning to see him line up 25 yards off the line of scrimmage on some plays, but he used that depth to make a great play on the ball on his first interception. I think we'll see Landry in Pro Bowls for years to come.
• Special teams:
Seahawks punter Ryan Plackemeier
had a nice day in some tough wind conditions. He nailed the Redskins at their 2- and 4-yard lines on his first two punts. And Washington wasn't able to return any of his seven punts. He finished with a 41.6-yard net average, which is pretty remarkable.
Game 2: Jacksonville 31, Pittsburgh 29
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew
had a 96-yard kickoff return, a 43-yard touchdown reception and a 10-yard scoring run.
Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward
and tight end Heath Miller
combined for 18 catches and 220 yards.
Jacksonville cornerback Rashean Mathis
picked off Ben Roethlisberger
on consecutive drives. He returned the first one 63 yards for a touchdown.
Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison
had 1½ sacks and eight tackles. Without Joey Porter
, the Steelers needed someone to step up this season. Harrison did the job. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley
added two sacks and three tackles.
• Special teams:
Jones-Drew's 96-yard kickoff return helped Jacksonville establish a foothold in Heinz Field.
• John Clayton:
In Seattle's NFC wild-card playoff win over Washington on Saturday, Mike Holmgren showed in five plays why he's probably the most dangerous coach in the playoffs.
• Mike Sando:
Those who thought the Redskins somehow trivialized Sean Taylor's death by harnessing it for a playoff push surely weren't looking into Joe Gibbs' eyes Saturday night.
The Jaguars passed a character test in Pittsburgh.
• Scouts Inc.'s Buzz: If you haven't paid much attention in the Northwest, the Seahawks have a pretty impressive defensive team led by LDE
Patrick Kerney, MLB Lofa Tatupu, OLB Julian Peterson and shutdown corner Marcus Trufant. Defensive coordinator John Marshall's game plan was to shut down the Washington running game while overloading the right side with single zone pressure schemes in passing situations that placed a lot of pressure on rookie RT Stephon Heyer. The Redskins countered by sliding their protections schemes toward Heyer, which forced LT Chris Samuels on an island in one-on-one situations on the backside with either Darryl Tapp or Peterson.
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An early look at looming story lines:
1. Green Bay memories for Seahawks:
Coach Mike Holmgren had about 30 seconds to celebrate his team's 35-14 victory over the Redskins before he was asked about next weekend's divisional playoff game in Green Bay. Holmgren had a 75-37 regular-season record as coach of the Packers from 1992 to '98, and he of course led them to their last Super Bowl title in 1996.
"We knew we'd go back there if we won," Holmgren said immediately after the game. "It's a special place. It's a special place to everyone that loves football. And we have our work cut out for us. But it's going to be a heck of a game."
Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck
was Brett Favre
's backup in Green Bay from 1999 to 2000, and no one will forget his yelling, "We want the ball, and we're going to score" after the overtime coin flip in a 2003 wild-card playoff game at Lambeau Field.
Of course, Packers cornerback Al Harris
quickly made Hasselbeck eat his words with a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown to give his team a 33-27 win. Perhaps sensing that his overtime moment would be a popular subject, Hasselbeck jokingly repeated his infamous line after Saturday's victory over the Redskins.
2. Seahawks-Packers familiar:
The Packers and Seahawks have met five times since Holmgren arrived in Seattle. Green Bay is 3-2 in those games, including a 3-1 record at Lambeau Field. In the teams' last meeting (Nov. 27, 2006), Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander
had 40 carries for 201 yards. Favre and Hasselbeck split six interceptions in that game.
3. Trufant to be challenged:
I know the Seahawks' secondary looked pretty strong against the Redskins for most of the game, but a lot of that was thanks to an unbelievable pass rush. Look for the Packers to challenge cornerback Marcus Trufant
with slants to Donald Driver
and Greg Jennings
I don't think any group of receivers in the league does a better job of running after the catch than Green Bay's, so tackling will be huge for Seattle. What has changed about the Seahawks' secondary this season? The team actually has some safeties who know how to cover. It's funny, though, that the Hawks were so anxious to get rid of Ken Hamlin
and now he's starting in the Pro Bowl for the Cowboys.
-- Matt Mosley
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